Hollins University Alumnae Magazine, Summer 2022 Issue

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Hollins Hollins Magazine Vol. 72, No. 3 May - August 2022 EDITOR Billy Faires, executive director of marketing and communications ADVISORY BOARD President Mary Dana Hinton, Associate Vice President for Alumnae/i Engagement and Strategic Initiatives Lauren Sells Walker ’04, Director of Public Relations Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11 DESIGNERS Sarah Sprigings, David Hodge Anstey Hodge Advertising Group, Roanoke, VA PRINTER Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA Hollins (USPS 247/440) is published quarterly by Hollins University, Roanoke, VA 24020. Entered as Periodicals Postage Paid at Roanoke, VA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Hollins, Hollins University, 7916 Williamson Rd., Box 9688, Roanoke, VA 24020 or call (800) TINKER1. The articles and class letters in Hollins do not necessarily represent the official policies of Hollins University, nor are they always the opinions of the editor. Hollins University does not discriminate in admission because of sexual orientation, race, color, national or ethnic origin, disability, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, age, political beliefs, religion, and/or pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, and maintains a nondiscriminatory policy throughout its operation. For more information, contact Yuli Adejo, community, equity, and Title IX program director, at (540) 362-6382 or adejoy@hollins.edu. Questions, comments, corrections, or story ideas may be sent to: Magazine Editor Hollins University 7916 Williamson Rd. Box 9657 Roanoke, VA 24020 magazine@hollins.edu

Content s 2 12

A Letter from President Mary Dana Hinton Student Success, Well-Being, and Belonging Restructuring with focus on student mental health and support networks


Inauguration of Mary Dana Hinton


Commencements Speech excerpts and photo highlights from Class of 2022 and Class of 2020 commencement exercises


Reunion 2022 Photo gallery


Women in Law By Sarah Achenbach ’88


Cutting-Edge Medicine Hollins’ Internships with Vascular Perfusion Solutions Are Changing Lives. By Jeff Dingler M.F.A. ’22


Overnight Sensations, Lasting Partnerships By Jeff Dingler M.F.A. ’22

D E P A R T M E N T S 3

In the Loop


Visit the online version of Hollins magazine at hollins.edu/magazine.


President Dear Friends, This issue of the magazine is, in many ways, about coming home. After two years of collectively responding to the pandemic on campus, and continuing to thrive through that challenge, this spring we had the opportunity to share and celebrate our success with our broader Hollins community, including many of you. And celebrate we did! We hope these magazine pages will remind you of your Hollins home. As the community gathered for my inauguration, two commencements, and a multiyear reunion, it was clearly a homecoming: moments when we embraced, reflected, imagined, and looked forward together. Even as we reminisced, laughed, and cried, we also envisioned a bright future for our beloved Hollins and began to draft big plans! While this spring was filled with homecoming for our alumnae/i, in many ways, coming to Hollins is like coming back home for me, too. I grew up less than 200 miles from here in North Carolina, so I know the histories, stories, and context of our Hollins quite well. I think I know the hearts of the students who choose Hollins and why. While I will never take that for granted, it is great to be in a place where you truly feel like you belong; where you share a history and language and beliefs. A place you can call home. I realized on April 22, 2022, that I was free to exhale and embrace Hollins as my forever home. I have never had that before, and it is amazing to feel so accepted, so cared for, so engaged, that you can actually feel a sense of permanence. Thank you, friends near and far, for helping me to find home. Home is so much more than a place; it’s a state of mind. May you carry your Hollins home with you always.

Levavi Oculos, Mary Dana Hinton President 2 Hollins


Loop Meghana Mysore M.F.A. ’22 Awarded Steinbeck Fellowship


he Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San José State University has named Meghana Mysore M.F.A. ’22 one of six Steinbeck Fellows for the 2022-23 academic year. Named in honor of American author John Steinbeck, the fellowship offers creative writers of any age and educational background a $15,000 grant to finish a major writing project. Fellows typically reside in the San José area to attend in-person workshops and campus community events, but participation will be virtual for 2022-23 due to ongoing COVID-19 complications.

As a Steinbeck Fellow, Mysore will continue work on her M.F.A. thesis, a novel-in-stories currently titled Delayed Connections. “The book follows an Indian-American family in the Pacific Northwest, and explores questions of loss, desire, and joy in this family, along with the ways in which the external world of the very white suburb where they live acts on the dynamics between the family members,” she said. “The stories deal mostly with three characters and the gap between the two generations of this family, and the ways in which they can’t communicate. It’s thinking a lot about communication and what we’re willing to confess to strangers, versus the people closest to us.”

Legendary Actor Robert Duvall Discusses the Transition “From Ink to Behavior” with Hollins Screenwriters


uring a distinguished acting career that’s spanned more than 60 years, Robert Duvall has appeared in some of the greatest movies ever made and played an array of iconic film and television roles. This summer, he shared his insights on acting, directing, and screenwriting during a conversation with students from Hollins’ graduate programs in screenwriting and film studies. The event was made possible by writer/producer Colleen Hahn, a screenwriting student who first met Duvall on the set of Tender Mercies, the 1983 film that earned him a Best Actor Oscar. Duvall emphasized his firm belief that “research, research, research” is essential to crafting an impactful script. “Immerse yourself in the subject matter and then put forth something that you love. I haven’t written that many screenplays, but sometimes




e have some exciting news about class news! Hollins magazine is consolidating class letters, in memoriam, celebrations, and the bookshelf into two special editions; one in the fall and one in the spring. This change will address one of the requests we receive most frequently: Can we print the news closer to when it is shared? We should be able to shave a month off our previous timeline, and we are thrilled! We’ll also have space for more photos, so make sure you’re sending those along! The first class-news-centric issue will be published in November 2022. Here are the deadlines for that magazine:

• News from your classmates will be due to class reporters by September 12. • Your letters will be due to Hollins by September 26. • The magazine should show up in mailboxes around November 21.

I just sit down and start writing and just see where it goes. I go from A to B to C to D and just follow the logic of the script.” As an actor, Duvall noted that when he reads a script, “I look for whether I can take what’s in ink and turn it into organized behavior. ‘From ink to behavior’ is what I call it. You let your imagination take over and encompass you and propel your ideas into results.”


DUE TO DUE TO IN YOUR YOU: US: HANDS: 9/12 9/26 11/21 Summer 2022 3


Loop Chris Kilcoyne Named Director of Athletics


hris Kilcoyne was appointed director of athletics this July after serving as the interim head of the department since last December. Kilcoyne originally joined Hollins Athletics in August 2021 as director of athletic communications. Previously, he spent five years at his alma mater Roanoke College, where he handled all facets and digital strategies of the athletic communications office, including webcasts, social media, branding, and marketing of the school’s 21 teams. Kilcoyne worked with the Roanoke College development office on fundraising strategies and alumni events and served on the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. He also assisted with oversight of day-to-day department operations and game management. Following the 2016-17 academic year, Kilcoyne and the Roanoke College athletic communications department received the ODAC Sports Information Director of the Year award. Prior to working at Roanoke College, Kilcoyne was associate director of communications for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

For Championing Mental Health Advocacy, Charvi Gangwani ’24 is Named a 2022 Global Teen Leader


harvi Gangwani ’24 is among the 34 young people representing 23 countries on five continents announced as the 2022 Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) by the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF). The WAFF selected the GTLs based on their social good innovations, organizations, projects, and promise for a more just, equitable, and peaceful future. In response to what she felt was a huge gap in mental health resources available to students in her home country of India, Gangwani founded The Amygdala, an organization raising awareness about mental health issues, advocating for access to mental services in schools, and helping adolescents achieve psychological resilience through education and resources. The Amygdala has become an international movement comprising psychological education and mental health workshops and webinars, a speaker series that connects mental health professionals to students, and a series that highlights the stories of young mental health advocates.

Mu’o·’n Thi· Văn Wins Margaret Wise Brown Prize


ollins has honored Vietnamese author Muọ̕ n ̕ Thị Văn as the winner of the seventh annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature. Muọ̕ n ̕ received an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for Wishes, illustrated by Victo Ngai and published by Orchard Books. Inspired by events in the author’s life, Wishes is the story of a Vietnamese family’s search for a new home on the other side of the world and how that impacts one of the family’s youngest members. “Muọ̕ n ̕ Thị Văn takes the reader on a heart-wrenching journey, from leaving 4 Hollins

the familiarity of home to navigating the perils of an ocean voyage to finally arriving at a place of hope and new beginnings,” stated the judges for this year’s prize. Hollins established the Margaret Wise Brown Prize as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. The cash prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. It is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached.

“This would not have been possible without the unconditional support that I have received from Hollins’ faculty and my peers,” stated Gangwani, a biology major and chemistry minor. “Hollins’ innovative classes such as Social Media and Social Activism (taught by Associate Professor of Communication Studies Vladimir Bratic) greatly supported me in my endeavors and instilled in me the 21st-century skills needed to succeed with my social enterprise.”


Loop Hollins Students Conduct Research Through Virginia Tech’s Global Change Center


aunched in 2017, the Hollins Partnership program gives select Hollins undergraduates the opportunity to identify possible mentor-mentee connections/relationships for their future graduate training. This summer, Aqsa Fazal ’23, Olivia Sacci ’24, and Jessica Willebeek-LeMair ’23 enjoyed close collaborations with faculty from the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech, partnerships that enhanced their research experience portfolios. Fazal, who is majoring in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry and minors in biology and physics, researched mosquito-borne diseases. Building on her experience working with amphibians in both a clinical and zoological setting, Sacci studied the symbiotic microbial communities that reside on amphibian skin as well as the microbiomeparasite interactions in honeybees. She is a biology major and chemistry minor on the pre-veterinary track at Hollins. Willebeek-LeMair, an environmental science major, assisted in using data from wildlife viewer surveys to write scientific reports. The experience enhanced her data analysis and scientific writing skills and provided her with a new social perspective on environmental conservation issues in the Appalachian region. Fazal, Sacci, and Willebeek-LeMair participated in the Fralin Life Science Institute’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program in conjunction with activities organized by the Virginia Tech Office of Undergraduate Research.

Boyd Pearman Photography

Hollins Receives IIE American Passport Project Grant to Support Study Abroad


ollins is one of 40 institutions selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant. The grant will enable up to 25 first-year Hollins students to obtain a U.S. passport and start their study-abroad journey. The IIE American Passport Project is intended to promote diversity, inclusion, access, and equity in study abroad and to support the IIENetwork, IIE’s global membership network, in its efforts to encourage students to go abroad who would

otherwise not participate in an international experience as part of their college education. “This grant will enable traditionally underrepresented students at Hollins to take the first step in studying abroad—to acquire a passport,” said Ramona Kirsch, director of international programs at Hollins. “This will not only serve them well during their time at Hollins but also after they graduate and continue to explore the world and become globally engaged.”

Summer 2022 5



Famed actor and humanist Will Rogers noted, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.” The six faculty members who retired at the conclusion of the 2021-22 academic year compiled over 170 years of service to Hollins—time well spent with much to do—among them, and rest assured they will find plenty to do with the time they have saved. We invite you to celebrate the lasting educational and personal marks they have left with Hollins, celebrated through tributes from their faculty colleagues. Associate Professor of Biology | B E C K Y B E A C H

Rory Sanson Boitnott ’19

Faculty Retirees

Faculty Retirees


ssociate Professor of Biology Rebecca “Becky” Beach joined the Hollins biology department in the fall of 1994. With degrees and expertise in genetics, cell and molecular biology, and developmental biology, she has led the biology curriculum in these areas for the past 27 years. Becky has guided numerous students through creative and meaningful independent research experiences over the years, both alone and in partnership with colleagues. Her scholarly endeavors have often included students, and several of her scientific publications have included student coauthors. Her mentorship has ignited the trajectory of so many students into graduate study, human medicine, veterinary medicine, and the biotech industry. Their success in these fields, and thus the success of Hollins as an institution of higher learning, is due in part to her effort and dedication in the classroom and laboratory. Hollins students speak very highly of Becky as a professor, advisor, and mentor, 6 Hollins

remarking on her supportive and encouraging nature, and her expertise in the classroom and laboratory. A first-year student recently told her, “I love how you connect with your students on a personal level. I feel like I can come to you about anything, I trust you and you have made an amazing impact on my education.” Students in her 300-level Genetics course and laboratory have been similarly laudatory: “Very interesting course. Dr. Beach loves this topic and really enjoys teaching it,” and “Great class, super interesting. Dr. Beach is amazing!” Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Elizabeth “Liz” Gleim ’06 has known Becky as both a professor and as a departmental colleague. Liz reflected on these experiences: “I first knew Becky when she was my professor at Hollins. Then as now, she was so kind and supportive of her students, and I was always in awe of what she knew about all things molecular and cell-based. As a colleague, Becky continues to amaze me with the wealth of practical knowledge she’s amassed in the lab, which I have drawn upon on many occasions, and her continued interest in topics relevant to her field. I will always be grateful to Becky for what she gave me as a student and now as a colleague. She helped lay the foundation for the laboratory skills and molecular and cell-based knowledge that helped me secure my first job out of Hollins at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and on to graduate school and today. To think that I am just one

of the countless students whose careers she has helped to launch and the many wonderful things that those students have gone on to do is just amazing.” Biology Department Technician Cheryl Taylor, who earned her degree in biology from Hollins in 2009 as a Horizon student, echoed that good fortune: “Becky was the first person I met in the biology department. I was a bit nervous coming to Hollins as an adult Horizon student. I was so unsure of how I would do academically while working a full-time job and raising two children. Or how I would fit in with the other students that were far younger than me. Becky immediately picked up on that nervousness and assured me I would be just fine. She became my advisor and she helped me navigate the transferring of credits from community college and what my next steps would be to achieve my degree. She was so helpful, kind, and reassuring. As the biology lab technician at Hollins, I have engaged with Becky on a different level. She is an awesome colleague and mentor. She loves to teach and enjoys working with our students. She encourages them and guides them through tough subjects and tough schedules. Becky is such a wonderful soul. She has touched many lives in her tenure at Hollins, mine being one of them.” Becky’s service and commitment to the Hollins community have been remarkable.



— C. Morgan Wilson, Janet W. Spear professor and chair of biology

Professor of Finance and Economics | C A S I M I R D A D A K

Pożegnanie i dziękuję Kazimierz (Farewell and thank you, Casimir)


would like to extend a heartfelt thanks and sincere best wishes to Casimir Dadak. May he enjoy a long and prosperous retirement after having spent the last 22 years of his life devoted to teaching, academic advising, and scholarly research at Hollins University. Our department and our university can only share the joy that this new chapter in his life brings to Casimir and his family. I have known Casimir throughout the last 15 years and have noticed in his person a man of profound moral standards based on Christianity, a worldview that has led him to develop a critical vision of today’s society. His concerns over the future of the European Union and the fate of the Euro zone are intertwined with continuous reflections based on sacred scriptures and the Heavenly. A native of Poland, Casimir’s tenure at Hollins began in Spring Term 2000 as visa arrangements were stalled during late spring and summer of 1999, preventing Casimir, his wife, Ania, and children, Vojtech and Christopher, from joining our Hollins community until the beginning

Faculty Retirees

She has taught over a dozen different courses in the General Education program, the First-Year Seminar program, and the biology major. She has served multiple times as chair of the biology department, and as chair of Division III and representative on the Faculty Executive Committee. Over the years she has made invaluable contributions as a member of the Academic Policy Committee, Harassment Grievance Board, and Review Board, and several search, scholarship, and advisory committees. Becky has also served the university as clerk of the faculty and for several years as dean of academic services. Becky has brought a love for dogs, particularly Australian Shepherds, into the classroom and has woven it into both a January Short Term course and a semester course, Biology of Dogs. In addition, in partnership with her Aussies, Lilly and Jake, Becky has earned numerous titles on obedience and scent detection, and participates regularly in local, state, and regional competitions. In addition to her excellence as an academician and canine trainer, Becky is an outstanding baker. I first learned this at the end of my first semester as a member of the department. By the time the final exam period arrived, I was worn paper-thin and looking forward to the holiday break. On the last day of exams, I found a surprise in my office: a beautiful bounty of parchment paper-wrapped packages containing homemade cranberry bread, chocolate and peanut butter fudge, cinnamon cake drizzled with icing, and my absolute favorite—molasses cookies. Becky has given this wonderful gift to me and to each of my departmental colleagues every year since. I have always known that I can count on Becky not only as a close colleague, but also as a friend. On behalf of my colleagues, coworkers across campus, and the many hundreds of students whose lives she has impacted, I thank her for all she has done for Hollins. I congratulate her on an outstanding faculty career and on her retirement. As Professor of Biology Renee Godard said, “Becky is irreplaceable. Our hearts and minds have grown in her presence and will echo in her absence.”

of the 1999-2000 academic year. Casimir, who completed his Ph.D. in economics with a concentration in finance from Fordham University, taught undergraduate courses in finance and applied macroeconomics. Among the multiple contributions he willed to Hollins, Casimir helped spearhead changes in our business major by introducing courses in international business and international finance—areas he is most familiar with, given his research expertise. A year or two before the turn of the century, and the new millennium, Hollins introduced its business major. Gradually, Casimir’s contributions led to a more robust business curriculum. Over the past 22 years, Casimir served, with aplomb and distinction, as department chair and was elected by his colleagues to serve as faculty representative on several standing committees. A fan of European league soccer, Casimir has a long and distinctive scholarly trajectory. He is the author of seven book chapters and over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles in prestigious journals, including The Journal of Economic Issues and East European Review, among others. Casimir’s research interests cover the economic transformation of east-central Europe, Summer 2022 7


Loop Faculty Retirees

European economic integration, economic development of east-central Europe, and the economics and politics in the former Soviet Bloc. His scholarship is also patent in non-academic publications, including regular news article contributions in Dziennik Polski and Idziemy, two widely read Polish newspapers. Students will miss Casimir’s wit, unforgiving exams, and oral presentations based on final team projects! In closing, I dedicate the following poem by Irish poet William Butler Yeats to Casimir, who enjoys nature and shares the firm belief that nature’s cherished power fortifies body, mind, and soul. All best wishes, Casimir.

Professor of Chemistry | B A N S I K A L R A

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” By William Butler Yeats I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings. I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core. — Pablo Hernandez, associate professor of economics

8 Hollins


rofessor of Chemistry Bansi Kalra’s academic life began in his native country, India. It was there that he earned an undergraduate honors degree in chemistry from Panjab University, which he completed in three years. He also holds a master’s degree in chemistry from Panjab. Before joining the faculty at Hollins in 1980, Bansi made stops in Canada, New York, and Iowa. In Canada, he earned a Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from the University of Saskatchewan, and he completed a one-year post-doc at Queen’s University in Ontario. In New York, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Colgate University, and in Iowa, he taught at Wartburg College and at the University of Northern Iowa. These stops helped prepare him well for the long and successful 42-year career he would have at Hollins. Two factors contributed to Bansi’s success as a teacher: his love of chemistry and his love for his students. His love of chemistry was evident in the way he taught. Bansi firmly believed in hands-on learning, a form of education he employed in all his courses. By having students carry out carefully selected demonstrations in class, they would learn by doing. These demonstrations were always instructive and often hugely entertaining.

His love for his students was apparent in the way he treated them. Bansi was known for working late into the night, so it was not unusual to find him in his office after hours. His students have spoken fondly of the times he would offer to make coffee or tea for them while they also worked late into the night completing homework assignments or studying for tests. His love was also evident by the way he spoke about them. Once, when asked what course he enjoyed teaching the most, without hesitation, he answered Chemistry 101. He explained that in his experience many of the students who take this course are fearful of the subject. He said he loves “pulling them through,” because, as he remarked, “pulling them through means something.” As a research scientist, Bansi studied reaction pathways. Using sophisticated methods of synthesis and analysis, he and his collaborators worked out detailed mechanisms associated with the chemical changes that certain small, cyclic hydrocarbon molecules undergo at high temperatures. On more than one occasion, the studies they conducted were supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, and at various times their findings were published in prestigious journals, such as the International Journal of Chemical Kinetics, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and the Journal of Physical Chemistry. Bansi takes great pride in his accomplishments as a researcher, but he is even prouder of the fact that he was able to involve students in his work. His students presented their findings at regional, national, and international conferences, and two of them were coauthors on papers he published in peer-reviewed journals. Because of Bansi’s accomplishments as a teacher and researcher, he twice held the prestigious Paula Pimlott Brownlee Professorship, a distinction only one other faculty member at Hollins has earned. The faculty, particularly those closest to him, will sorely miss his wit, his intellect, his mentorship, and his all-around kind, gentle, and upbeat presence. — Dan Derringer, professor of chemistry



plished and diverse group of authors for campus visits. When COVID-19 first hit, she faced the particular challenges of overseeing the M.F.A. students’ comprehensive exams, which had to be quickly shifted online, while finishing out the admission process for the next cohort. She reinvented work assignments for graduate assistants and ensured that the reading series carried on successfully in the weird new realm called “Zoom.” Liz has also done crucial work for Hollins in support of Jewish matters, both as a member of the Diversity Initiative Advisory Board and in persuasive conversations and memos behind the scenes, raising awareness of identities often overlooked. Here’s what some of her former students have to say about Liz’s teaching: Kelly Cook M.F.A. ’09: “Elizabeth Poliner

changed my writing and my life. I cannot say enough good things about her ability to teach the impossible—and also do the impossible, for she is an excellent teacher and writer.”


iz Poliner, a self-described “craft nerd,” is, like all good teachers, a lifelong learner—humble before that which she has yet to discover. During her decade-plus at Hollins, she has enriched creative writing students with new methods for breaking into the lock box of self-censorship, for strategic revision, and for conducting historical research. Some of Liz’s many gifts to Hollins, in leadership and in teaching, include: • Mentoring a passel of outstanding undergraduate honors theses, • Leading consistently strong “workshop” and intermediate classes, • Shepherding the creation of an additional graduate assistantship, • Fielding essential 100-level and J-Term classes for her department, • And yes…committee work, on the Graduate Academic Affairs Committee, Diversity Initiative Advisory Board, and others. While serving as director of creative writing, Liz brought in a notably accom-

Lucy Marcus M.F.A. ’19: “I still remember the

moment I realized the complexities I had overlooked in a published story we were analyzing. Liz asked the group a question. Then she had us reread a line of dialogue but did not tell us what it meant. She simply watched as we flipped frantically through the pages of the story and murmured, with shared awe, a collective understanding that Liz’s question had unlocked. Thank you, Liz, for your wisdom and contagious passion.” April Wilder M.F.A. ’15: “The ‘a-ha’ moments I experienced in Liz’s tutorial continue to impact my writing today. Liz sees to the heart of people’s motivations and desires, and how who we are is inextricable from how we interact with the world. The encouragement she has given me across the years (including after graduation) has been a buoy. I send her all my love and best wishes as she retires from Hollins.” Meghana Mysore M.F.A. ’22: “Liz puts so

much energy into her teaching, and this energy was really needed for me in my

first year in the Hollins M.F.A. program. She so clearly cared about my work and pushing it to reflect its greatest potential.” Liz’s obsession with the craft of fiction has also benefited the writing community nationwide through a series of very well-received panels she’s organized for the annual conferences of her professional organization, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and through her published essays on other writers’ work. But we can’t talk about Liz without talking about her as a literary artist: one whose creativity and diligence enrich a wider realm than just our campus. She’s an accomplished poet and writer of short stories, and she leaves us ready to dive into completing her much-anticipated third novel. So, we’ll close by telling you about the success of her second, As Close to Us as Breathing. We could call this book “beautiful,” “exquisite,” and “the kind of novel you sink into blissfully,” but that would be plagiarizing from the rave review it got on NPR back in 2016! So we’ll steal from The New York Times instead. That reviewer wrote that Liz has “a keen eye for the awkwardness and sudden leaping insights of adolescents on the brink of adulthood,” and praised As Close to Us as Breathing as “a big-hearted roundelay of a novel that, among other things, performs the invaluable service of recovering a lost world.” The novel was translated into German and also got good reviews abroad. Here in the U.S., it received the Janet Heidinger Kafka prize, an award previously won by such luminaries as Toni Morrison and Ursula K. Le Guin. Achievements like this, not to mention her public readings and book club visits around the country, redound to Hollins’ reputation. They also exemplify the breadth and depth of vision, the inspired imagination, and the acute insights of our remarkable colleague, Elizabeth Poliner. Well done, Liz! Thank you—and keep writing!

Faculty Retirees

Susan Gager Jackson Professor of Creative Writing | E L I Z A B E T H P O L I N E R

— Cathryn Hankla ’80, M.A. ’82, professor of English emerita, and Jeanne Larsen M.A. ’72, professor of English emerita

Summer 2022 9


Loop Faculty Retirees

Professor of Communication Studies | C H R I S R I C H T E R


hris Richter joined the communication studies department at Hollins in 1995 and over the past 27 years, “Richter” (as he is affectionately called by his students) has taught, advised, challenged, and yes, fed hundreds of students. He is known for his fierce defense of, and belief in, the discipline of communication studies. To his students, Richter embodies what a professor should be: inspiring, passionate, talented, and thoughtful. As one of his students noted, “My favorite class with Richter was our senior thesis course where we each got a chance to meet with him one-on-one to work through our challenges. He was so supportive and genuinely invested in each of our topics. I will always be thankful for what Richter has taught me.” Richter offered a variety of engaging classes during his career that ranged from video studio processes to public communication and discourse. He creatively mixed rigor and entertainment with ease: he loved to paint a picture with a story or quick anecdote, and his multimedia PowerPoint presentations were envied for the way he could insert the perfect song, pop culture visual, and critical insight, whether he was discussing media law, communication technology, or even how to watch television. His PowerPoints were particularly meaningful to students throughout the pandemic, which required classes to be taught remotely. “During COVID-19, Professor Richter started and ended his PowerPoints with pictures of his cats, and included the line, ‘This Class Brought to You by Seven the Cat,’” a student recalled. “It was a little thing, but it helped me find something to look forward to in a really stressful time.” His attention to the needs of others was also appreciated by another student, who said, “My meetings with Professor Richter always ended with him saying, ‘Great to see you,’ which warmed my heart every time.” Richter’s “amazing tzatziki recipe and his homegrown tomatoes” further endeared him to students, and one of them described him as “a professor with style—in his iconic earring!” A tribute would not be complete without mentioning the January Short Term trips to Greece through the years that

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continue to be the template for how to successfully take 15 to 20 college students abroad and ensure they not only learn a lot but have a lot of fun as well (and survive!). The Greece trips were organized and led by Richter and his wife, Professor of Classical Studies Tina Salowey. Richter and Salowey met on her first day on campus in July 1996 when he helped her move into the apartment below him on Faculty Avenue. “That night,” she recalled, “my cat, Leo, mewled around the apartment all night and I was finally driven to let him out at about 4:30 in the morning. A huge storm moved in and I couldn’t find Leo, who was terrified of thunder and lightning. Distraught, I searched along Faculty Avenue for my cat and Chris helped me look. We walked and talked, and when I returned to my apartment, Leo was inside, safe and dry (I had left the window open for him), but Chris and I got to know one another. We have been together for 26 years!” Among his peers both past and present, Richter is greatly valued. Professor of Economics Emeritus Juergen Fleck recalled, “He first stood out to me in our Division II (Social Sciences) meetings, where his thoughtful contributions reflected his genuine concern for his students, colleagues, and the Hollins community. I especially admired Chris’ willingness to speak up on important issues in a constructive and nonconfrontational way. This was not lost on other faculty members, who elected him repeatedly to serve on important committees. He has an extraordinary record of service to Hollins,” which included serving as department or division chair numerous times throughout his tenure. Fleck added, “As a teacher and mentor, Chris wanted his students to become active citizens and lifelong learners. So, in his classes, he challenged them with collaborative work and experiential learning. The travel blog posts required of students during the popular Short Term trips to Greece are just one example. He also went out of his way to make students feel at home at Hollins. He and Tina, both great cooks, invited students to their house at the end of each semester to enjoy some home cooking, see the lovely mountains, and meet their cats.”

Richter is widely respected for his research that has spanned a variety of areas of communication studies. These include alternative media, early 1900s travel diaries, visual culture, and his current passion to grow his expertise on Byzantine to Modern Greek history, especially commemorative monuments of the 18th through 20th centuries. His insights on institutional matters that were close to his heart, such as the announcement in 2012 to relocate the student apartments to Faculty Avenue, were reasoned and thorough—even if you didn’t always agree with him. As one faculty member said, “He is feisty, kind, funny, and passionate about issues that are important to him. It may take him days to craft a response to an issue, conflict, or question, but you can be sure that his response is a thoughtful, in-depth exploration of all sides.” Richter is embarking on a new chapter in life, but there is no doubt that he, as another faculty member stated, will “continue to find communication in all that he sees around him.” In the meantime, his retirement is leaving some very big shoes to fill. “Chris is a man of many talents,” Fleck said, while a student reflected, “We will miss his strong leadership and dedication to the discipline, the department, and the university. And his tzatziki. What will we do without you, Richter?” — Lori Joseph, professor of communication studies




y colleague and friend, Annette Sampon-Nicolas, arrived at Hollins in 1985, the year of the legendary flood; an event she remembers vividly. She had been at Hollins only two months when, one day while teaching a class on 19thcentury French literature (that included former Board Chair Alex Trower ’86), she received word that if she did not want her car to float away, she should move it quickly! While she recalls the flood as a harrowing event, she also remembers it as a time when faculty and staff came together to help save rare library books and to support one another. She and her colleagues literally weathered the storm. What a memorable way to start her long and fruitful career at Hollins! Recently I asked Annette how she came to be at Hollins, and she proceeded to tell me the most wonderful story about her serendipitous encounters with our institution. She said that many years ago, she and her mother were on an ocean liner headed to Europe when they met a fellow passenger who turned out to be a French professor at Hollins! She then told me about how one of her father’s professors from Belgium spent a year teaching at Hollins and wrote a memoir, Un Air de Virginie, in which he described Tinker Day and other memorable experiences. She concluded by saying: “How could I not pick Hollins with all these coincidences? I am fortunate that Hollins also chose me!” Annette was born in Belgium and grew up in a family where culture and curiosity were mainstays. Her parents, whom she

credits for everything she has achieved, instilled in her a passion for learning and a curiosity about the world and the environment. From them she developed a love of languages, literature, art, music, history, politics, architecture, gardening, cordon bleu cooking, and fencing (she was on the varsity team at the University of Wisconsin!). Many of these interests made their way into the innovative courses Annette developed at Hollins: interdisciplinary courses about the literature, film, and cultures of North Africa and West Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, Iran, Canada, Europe and Asia, food culture and politics, international studies, and the environment. Annette has always been grateful to Hollins for the creative freedom she has had to develop new classes and the opportunity to teach a variety of students: first-year seminar students, French majors and minors, and M.A.L.S. students. In addition to her accomplishments in the classroom, Annette has been an active scholar throughout her career, having published two books and numerous articles. For her tireless dedication, the French government honored her with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, a prestigious order of knighthood bestowed upon a scant few for their distinguished contributions to French national education and culture throughout the world. What Annette has valued most about Hollins is the opportunity to teach young minds and to see a passion for learning develop in her students. She has loved learning from them as much as they have loved learning from her. She remains close with many of her alumnae and she cherishes those relationships. Erin Pettigrew ’03, who teaches at NYU Abu Dhabi, said the following about her mentor: “Annette is by far the most important intellectual and professional influence on my life. It is because of her teaching, enthusiasm, and curiosity that I became a professor. It is because of her kindness and warmth that we have remained friends.” Annette credits students like Erin for making her career so rewarding. Annette’s kindness and warmth extend to her faculty colleagues as well. When I arrived at Hollins, she welcomed me with

open arms, frequently inviting me to her home for the most delicious meals. She helped me adjust to my new life and has been there for me as a friend and valued colleague all these years. We have wonderful conversations about teaching and scholarship, and she has been so generous, sharing syllabi, books, and all sorts of other resources that have helped me grow as a professor. As Annette is an avid and talented cook and baker, I have also been one of the fortunate recipients of her exquisite treats over the years! Annette, Hollins has been so fortunate to have you these 37 years. Thank you for choosing Hollins and for dedicating your life’s work to instilling a passion for learning in our students. I wish you a long and joyous retirement doing the many things you enjoy. You will be sorely missed.

Faculty Retirees

Professor of French | A N N E T T E S A M P O N - N I C O L A S

— Alison Ridley, Elisabeth Lineberger Ramberg Chair, professor of Spanish

Summer 2022 11

The goals of SSWBB are as follows:

• Holistic student well-being— academic, social, physical, and emotional • Deep collaboration between areas in support of student success, especially between the office of diversity, equity, and inclusion; academic affairs; and student affairs • A comprehensive structure to support student success and persistence • Student belonging • Deep, authentic personal concern for, and regular, intentional engagement with, students • Understanding of and respect for campus traditions • Regular professional development to support the strengths and professional needs of the staff

12 Hollins

Promote Social Connectedness

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Re C Im spon ultur pa si all ct ve y Pra Hi cti ghIncre ce s ased Touc Point h s

er/ to-Pe Peer- nae/i Alum orship Ment


n July 1, a substantial reconfiguration of departments took place at Hollins at a scale that is unusual in higher education. “In spring 2021, we began to imagine what it would look like, and take, to create a signature student experience ecosystem that enables all Hollins students to succeed, persist, and thrive at Hollins,” wrote President Mary Dana Hinton in a piece for Inside Higher Ed published earlier this summer. “We desired to create a division—or, in our institutional parlance, area— that will be responsible for ensuring all student experiences outside of the classroom are coordinated and focused on holistic student success and

n epe e De ectiv ce fl n Re silie Re

To Persist, To Thrive, To SUCCEED

Parent/ Guardian Engagement

se g rea eekin r c In -S vio lp a He Beh

Student Success, Well-Being, and Belonging (SSWBB)

well-being—academic, social, physical, spiritual, and emotional.” Principles at the heart of the reorganization include the need for deep collaboration between areas in support of student academic success—especially between the office of diversity, equity and inclusion; academic affairs; and student affairs—and the need for a comprehensive structure to support student success and persistence. A combination of two realities has hit the college landscape and played a factor in this restructuring: the pending demographic “enrollment cliff,” where the number of high school graduates over the coming decade will begin to drop precipitously, and the rise of mental health struggles in younger generations. From 2013 to 2021, depression and anxiety in college students more than doubled, according to survey data collected by the Healthy Minds network from over 350,000 students at more than 300 campuses. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly exacerbated many educational challenges, the declines with mental health were well documented and disturbing before the country quarantined itself. Many colleges are struggling to fill open jobs in certain areas, including for counselors. Hollins found itself in this boat last year as well. Thriving during one’s college years is an art, but plenty of research suggests there is a science to it as well. At Hollins, the ultimate goal for students is to graduate, but increasingly connected to that goal is for students to thrive. That is, not merely to cross the finish line, but to do so vigorously, with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Hollins does reasonably well in graduating its students within four years,

e ss Succching Coa

Promote Mental Health Services through a Public Mental Health Model

Key Areas/Pillars Under the Office of SSWBB:

• Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion • Health and Counseling • Student Success (formerly Academic Support) • Student Affairs (including Housing and Residence Life, security, and activities) • Spiritual life and counseling

doing so at a rate that consistently lands it in the top third of private colleges in Virginia, but President Mary Dana Hinton sees room for improvement and has made it an early priority for the university. Not just the integration of services, but an intentional integration of support. “Holistic support cannot mean creating boxes we expect students to open for themselves to receive services, one at a time, but rather creating an environment where receiving support is a more natural part of their walk,” Hinton said. “Just making assistance available isn’t enough. The onus is on us, not the students, to ensure the needed services are utilized.” The presence and intentionality of support services for college students has been evolving, slowly, for decades. Orientation programs for first-year students, for example, are far more involved at most colleges today than they were even a decade ago, and many college students prior to the 1990s may have had barely any orientation program at all; their parents dropped them off, and they were expected to figure it out.


Mary Dana Hinton April 22, 2022

Boyd Pearman Photography

For the first, and likely last, time in Hollins history, a new president was inaugurated almost two years after they began their work. Even so, the official inauguration of President Mary Dana Hinton on April 22, 2022, was more than worth the wait. Surrounded by events intended to celebrate the magic of the entire Hollins community, it was an emotionally stirring celebration, honoring Hinton’s personal and professional past, and shining a light on the promising path ahead. Below are excerpts from Hinton’s inaugural address.


began fueling my imagination when I was young. The imaginings borne in poverty are big and bold. Indeed, as Wendell Berry said, “You have to be able to imagine lives that aren’t yours…” This is what you do when faced with equal parts poverty and ambition. Imagination is kindled in unsuspecting moments, quiet places, and deep rituals. You see, my imagination was born in the dust mites of Saturday morning rug cleanings that Natasha Trethewey [M.A. ’91] spoke of. My imagination was born in my mother’s big, strong hands and brilliant mind. Hands which she often seemed embarrassed about, but hands that nurtured her children and many lives beyond. A brilliance unwanted and unrecognized by a world cast against her. Hands and a mind that far exceeded what the world imagined for her. My imagination was also born in my father, who imagined me, someone he called pumpkin, attending a university. Though he was born only a few decades after enslavement ended, he imagined his daughters going to college and doing many incredible things. He prayed for that for us. My imagination was born in the gracious home of the Cooper family. A family whose copper pots reflected my mother’s face but whose big hearts and radical kindness shifted the trajectory of my life by providing the resources and support to allow my imagination to breathe. My imagination was born in a kitchen with Laurie Heatherington, my undergraduate advisor, who is with me today. Laurie encouraged me to just be me in a world that seemed to want me to be someone else. It was born in a rocking chair with Sr. Jean Messaros and the Sisters of Mercy. It was born in the conversatio of the Dominican Sisters. It was nurtured and stoked and encouraged and deeply loved by the Benedictine Sisters in Saint Joseph, MN. It swam in the fount of Sacred Heart Chapel. You see, robust imagination is not just the territory of children; it is not the stuff of make-believe. Imagination is the innermost, profound work of thinking about life through an unexplored lens. Of looking at one’s circumstances and being able to conceive something different. Often something more. Imagination is conscious work. Intimate work. Draining work. Vulnerable work. Work that can lead to beautiful things like today; my mother would have loved this day. Work that can lead to grievous disappointment when left unsupported and unrealized. All too often, imaginings are left unexplored, not due to any failure of the beholder, but due to a society set up to question, deny, and defer the imagination. And yet. And yet, I stand before you today, not because I am smarter than others or better than others. I stand before you today because I had the great good fortune of being able to receive an education that unleashed my imagination. My will for that education was a result of imagining something different. I imagined freedom; I imagined opportunity; I imagined unconditional love. And it was a liberal arts education that unlocked those imaginings for me. To me, the examination and manifestation of imaginings is what education is all about. So let us imagine a community of learning. 14 Hollins

Photos by Boyd Pearman Photography


efore you email me, let me tell you that I know that this is not how the liberal arts are generally defined. That some want to return to the trivium and quadrivium and say that that is the authentic liberal arts. That the liberal arts are for those who breathe the most rarefied of air. That to examine the big questions of life should be left to those for whom it is their legacy. I have heard too many people say “today’s students” —students of color, low-income students, first-generation students, questioning students, and, once upon a time, women—are better suited for professional training or vocational training. I would argue that limiting learning and circumscribing how we think about education and who has access to it is a failure of imagination. That to shroud oneself in exclusion in the name of the liberal arts is to fundamentally misunderstand and misappropriate that very thing we claim to love. The liberal arts are for those whose minds imagine freedom, who imagine something different, who imagine something more. A liberal arts education is a call to imagine for the sake of creating and transforming. Creating and transforming self, creating and transforming community, and creating and transforming the world around us. You see, it is the wandering imagination that discerns cures for disease. It is the wondering imagination that asks how we can reimagine learning and truly democratize excellent education. It is the unwavering imagination that chooses to break down barriers and develop structures of access and success. It is the willful imagination that refuses to be yoked to the past and courageously sojourns forward toward a future it determines for itself. A future wherein all can, and will, have access to education. So, when I ask this community—the Hollins community—to imagine with me, I am asking that we do the work of liberal arts education creatively, with multiple perspectives at play, always centering the human experience of all those we encounter. I am asking that you believe that the essence of the liberal arts—the freeing of minds—also demands the freeing and nurturing of imagination. Not only our students’ imaginations, but the imagination of each of us, unconstrained by title or by task. In fact, this notion of imagination is, in many ways, baked into the very fabric of Hollins. Our motto, Levavi Oculos, is a reflection on the power of imagination. Levavi Oculos, which means “lift up thine eyes,” implies that there is something more to guide you. That the action of simply looking for that more will yield results. That it will free our imagination.

To read the full speech transcripts and see more photos from President Hinton’s Inauguration, scan the QR code or visit hollins.edu/magazine/inauguration

Commencements Hollins had the distinct pleasure of celebrating not one, but two commencements in 2022. Although one, for the Class of 2020, was two years delayed due to COVID-19, both proved unforgettable and all the more moving for those able to celebrate the event’s return to Front Quad after a two-year absence. The following are selected excerpts and highlights from words delivered during those two days.

Photos by Sharon L. Meador

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Alexandra Trower ’86 2022 Commencement Speech Highlights


hirty-six years ago, I was sitting in what very well could have been the exact same seat that one of you is sitting in right now. And I don’t mean that metaphorically—but quite literally. We keep a tight budget at Hollins, so a 36-year-old chair is not out of the question! So, I arrived in NYC, and… all I needed now was my dream job. Easy! I knew it might not be, for other people. But I was so sure that my winning personality, my great education, my can-do attitude, and willingness to put in long hours would make things happen for me right away. Well, “right away” became months. And my confidence edged closer to panic. I could not find a job in my chosen field. It was almost as if my field didn’t know that I had chosen it.

[My first job as a communications assistant at a long-distance telephone company] was my first step on a nonlinear path of a career in communications that would last 35 years, take me all over the world, but more importantly would lead me to do work that would have an impact on the lives of the people we served, on the lives of the people I got to work with—and would help shape me into the person I would become.

Have your dream, your plan—where you want to live; which field you want to be in; which company, organization, or institution you want to be part of; which job you want—but start with the most important thing. Now if I stopped there, I would be committing commencement speaker malpractice, because I have to add one crucial fact—your most important thing will change over time. You still need to figure out what that one most important thing is for you right now, but be prepared for forks in the road as you move forward. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you don’t know what you are doing. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Asking for help is a sign of strength and courage. And one of the best parts of Hollins is that Hollins graduates are always there to help each other. Pick up the phone, reach out on LinkedIn, send an email or a text— but ask! There is nothing that makes me happier than to hear from a Hollins student or graduate. And the secret is that being asked for help does something amazing for the other person. For me— and maybe it is because I can be bossy— it lifts me up, makes me feel needed, and gives me such joy to help others avoid some of the many mistakes I have made and mud puddles that I have sloshed through. We can tend to think of asking as embarrassing for us and a burden on the other person. But when we reach beyond that barrier—that

impossible goal of always being perfect and strong—we step into a shared space and realize that we are human together. When you find yourself heading in the direction of your dreams, even if you’re not on the actual doorstep just yet—raise your hand for everything. Working on those projects with other departments, stepping in when a teammate was out, and volunteering for things no one else wanted to do helped me learn more about the organization, build my skills, and experience new areas. And it built trust. You will find that accountability matters at all levels of an organization, personally and professionally. I could trust myself to follow through. My teammates could trust me to show up. And that’s cocreating a culture that thrives. Stories can often sound linear. This wasn’t linear. The only line was the one I’d drawn from Roanoke to New York. Otherwise, mine was a crooked path. It’s only linear in retrospect when I see that each of my experiences was a prerequisite for what came next. And that’s the beauty, and the burden. In life, we don’t get to decide what comes next. But we can decide how we are going to show up in whatever comes next. And that brings me to the most important lesson I’ve learned, that is to ask: What do you need from me?

And graduates, this is how change happens. Every single time you expand your thinking to include even one more person, rather than just reacting and retreating—you can change the culture, and the future, for the better. You have increased the chances for more communication, more honesty, more success, and better outcomes for everyone involved. But this is where I’m going to follow in the tradition of 36 years ago and share a quote. It is one that means a lot to me, and it’s one that brought me back after every stumble, and it brought me back to Hollins. The quote is from the Talmud and reads: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” When we say, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it,” we are really asking the world, “What do you need from me?” When we make intentional choices true to our calling, when we raise our hand, and raise each other up, when we take a moment and ask ourselves and the world, “What do you need from me right now?” we take a step closer to becoming the person we want to be, in the world we say we want to live in. But it takes all of us. And that is a relief, because that is what Hollins is. It’s all of us. So, class of 2022, cherish that feeling of wanting to bolt— you are ready. Summer 2022 17

President Mary Dana Hinton 2022 Introductory Remarks


ut most of all, students, when your memories feel far away; when your nights are dreamless; and when you cannot find the ones you love and who love you; know that in your hearts you carry all these things and that you are enough. Everything you need is within you. Every warm memory you’ve had; every dream you’ve ever held; every person who loves you is an inextricable part of who you are today. Within you is all the strength you need to do great things. Within you is all the joy and purpose you need to shine brightly in the world. That is who you are. The fact that Hollins University is now a part of you means that wherever you go, whoever you encounter: we are there with you. We believe in you, and we honor you as you are. You are enough. Class of 2022, on behalf of the trustees, faculty, staff, and administration of Hollins University, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve you. We cannot wait to see the magnificent things you will do in the world.

Allison “Ally” Majano ’22 Speech Highlights

Summer Jaime ’22 Speech Highlights

nd now, here we stand, with our cords, serving as a reminder of the successes we’ve had since arriving here, and we carry them with fulfillment along with a little bit of leftover stress. We carry evidence of our successes with us with pride, and I hope after four years of this institution, we walk away with confidence not just in our victories but in our failures as well. The things we never put on plaques or hang up on the walls or wear around our necks. The job applications and Tinder matches that ghosted us, the tests we bombed, the meetings we missed. We’re also here to celebrate that, because in the past four years we’ve grown, it has led us to where we are standing now, built us up and helped us spread our curiosity to trying new things. That beautiful milestone is what we’re celebrating today. I’m proud of all you seniors, and the outcome our four years at Hollins has given us.

f we as a class have taken anything away from the past four years, I hope it’s that life is full of the unknown, but that’s okay and we’re gonna be okay. No matter how many five-year plans we make or how many times we may map out the future, at the end of the day, we simply don’t know what tomorrow holds. And no matter how hard we try to control or manifest things, we simply can’t. I know Ariana Grande said, “God is a Woman,” but some days it really seems like patriarchy is out to get us. Life is full of constant change, but that change is what makes it so rewarding. Sure, a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic hit, but we’re here. Sure, social change rocked our campus and our entire nation, but we’re here. Sure, our pipes burst every few weeks, but we’re here. Being here today with all of you has shown me that we are more than capable. Capable of doing anything we set our minds to. For a lot of us, that was being here today. Despite all of the struggles we may have faced, we are here. And we have Hollins to thank for allowing us to grow and become the people we are today. Sure, most of us planned to graduate, but I don’t think we expected it to come this fast. But now that it’s here, I’m feeling okay.



Left: Senior speakers Allison “Ally” Majano ’22 and Summer Jaime ’22

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Tiffany Marshall Graves ’97 2020 Commencement Speech Highlights


esilience is defined as the capacity to recover from difficult life events. It is not a trampoline, where you’re down one moment and up the next. It’s more like climbing a mountain without a map. Sounds fun, huh? Climbing a mountain takes time, strength, and help from people around you, and you will likely experience setbacks along the way. But eventually you reach the top and you look back with pride at how far you have come. Being resilient does not mean that you don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. Rather, demonstrating resilience includes working through emotional pain and suffering…. We all know resilient people. I am looking at a crowd full of them now. I started my remarks by saying that this class is special—and part of that is because all of you are resilient. I cannot imagine the stress of attending college virtually. And, while we have all gotten used to Zoom life, I do not believe anyone will say it is an ideal way to learn or do most anything, for that matter. Talk about stress, setbacks, and difficult emotions! You had to have had all of them leading up to your original graduation. I bet some of you even contemplated whether you should defer your academic year (or years) until you could return to in-person learning. I feel sure I would have at least considered

doing that if it were me. But the fact that you are here today tells me that even if you did consider deferring or even leaving Hollins altogether, you did not. You persevered, you overcame, and you summoned your inner strength using the tools and people around you to keep pressing forward. I commend you for your resilience. I admire you for it. And I encourage you to continue to tap into it as often as you need to—and you will need to. While I certainly hope there will never be another global pandemic during our lifetimes, life will continue to bring challenges—and many of them will seem insurmountable in the moment. But you have all proven you are overcomers. You have demonstrated tremendous strength and stick-to-it-iveness. So, in those challenging moments, never forget just how resilient you are. Self-reflection is the process of bringing your attention to what’s happening in your life in a mindful and open-minded way. It’s all about creating self-awareness. So many of us focus on getting ahead that we don’t necessarily take time to reflect on what’s going on within us. We hear a lot about being present— and I want you to know how crucial that is. We have so many distractions around us—and often in the palms of our hands. When was the last time you really listened to a conversation and did not get distracted by an incoming email, text, or other notification, or things that were going on around you at the time? Being present and aware are essential for examining how you’re doing, what’s making you happy, what’s making you sad or angry, and for helping you decide how to address the cause of each of those emotions. Self-reflection helps us make sense of things—uncover breakthroughs— challenge our thinking—recognize change and track our progress—increase our self-awareness and self-acceptance— and live with more and greater intention.

We are always doing. And when we aren’t doing, we feel like we should be. We greatly undervalue rest. There are just too many things to get done, too many demands, too many responsibilities, and way too much urgency. Nobody can afford to waste time resting in today’s results-oriented world. The problem is, this hectic pace is causing severe damage to our quality of life. We are destroying every sense of our being—our bodies, our minds, our souls. Our lives have become too full and too out of balance. Somewhere along the way, we lost the essential practice of concentrated rest. Studies have shown that in addition to improving our health, rest can make us less stressed, it can deepen our relationships, it can present opportunities for—wait for it—reflection, it can make us more balanced, increase our productivity, and it can allow us to build up a reserve for when unexpected emergencies happen and rest is not an option. You have honored me in more ways than you could ever imagine by inviting me to speak to you today. Continue to be your resilient selves—but please make time to reflect and rest. This world needs you—to quote a familiar pandemic refrain—now more than ever—so please take care of yourselves. You always have a friend in me. Better yet—you always have a Hollins sister in me—so please don’t ever be strangers.

To see more photos from Commencement, scan the QR code or visit hollins.edu/magazine/ commencement

Summer 2022 19


To see more photos from Reunion, scan the QR code or visit hollins.edu/ magazine/reunion2022 Photos by Boyd Pearman Photography and Sharon L. Meador


LAW in


Early summer 2022 was momentous for the U.S. Supreme

Aiken Photo courtesy of Wake Forest University Law School


justice, was confirmed. And a series of controversial

It’s a dramatic time for the Supreme Court, with numerous controversial decisions and the reversal of law in the case of Roe v. Wade. What is the trend that caused it? What’s the path forward?

rulings, particularly the reversal of Roe v. Wade, altered

Jane: It is hard to take in what happened

Court: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black female

history. Three Hollins alumnae who are attorneys and law professors shared their insights on this important moment.


What does Justice Jackson’s appointment mean to the Court? To women? People of color? Keeshea Turner Roberts ’96: For women,

it’s a plus—the more women, the better, especially now as women’s rights are being diluted. Judge Jackson is also the first public defender on the Supreme Court. She’ll be instrumental with writing leading opinions in criminal law and capital punishment cases. As a person of color, I literally cried when she was sworn in. It was historic for me as a little girl thinking about who I wanted to be, and I wanted to be on the Supreme Court. To see someone who looks like me, who has the background I do as an African American woman, I think that’s important.

22 Hollins

Courtney Chenette ’09: As Gloria Steinem

says, it’s hard to be what you don’t see. Representation on the court matters a great deal to students who are still looking for role models in legal careers and how they can make a difference from within our existing systems.

Jane Aiken ’77: It’s important for the world to see a Black woman on the court. Having women of color changes the conversation among white people, so that’s a good thing. The background and experience that she brings to the court are unique. It gives our students something to be excited about that there are many paths for more diverse people and more diverse legal fields to the top of the court system.

[with Roe v. Wade], not just because this is a right that we have always assumed for almost 50 years, but the idea of taking away a right is not something that the Supreme Court has ever done. It is stunning that the pro-life movement managed to make this happen when over 60% of Americans believe that people should have access to abortion. All of this is about an anti-abortion strategy that ensured that the justices appointed were committed to this single issue beyond all others. We really need to learn from their strategy and reassess our reliance on the Supreme Court. Courtney: It’s so important for our

students to go to primary sources to deeply understand each step of the way, the evolution of the court, and to read the dissents and concurrences, not just the majority opinions. How the Court arrives at each decision matters. And if we don’t have the legal avenues Roe provided to arrive at opinions and decisions anymore, then the rest of the law will shift and change accordingly. Every case in the system is interconnected.



Rory Sanson Boitnott ’19

Keeshea: This plan—to get rid of Roe—

was 40 or 50 years in the making. Liberals weren’t paying attention to what the conservative agenda was. There was a plan and a purpose to support their ideological agenda. With the election of Donald J. Trump and the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, you could see the push to make the Court more conservative. [Liberals] have a lot of catching up to do. I think they need to be more aggressive. Maybe it’s time for a new political party or a new way of thinking about jurisprudence. Why don’t we take aspects of conservatism and liberalism views of jurisprudence and merge them into something that is totally different?


What does the Roe v. Wade decision mean for future rulings on landmark cases? Jane: I spoke to my law students last fall

and said that we’re going to lose Roe because of the makeup of the Court. We’re now in a place where you can assume, based on the Justices’ beliefs, how it’s going to go. Is the court now a legislative branch of our government but with lifetime tenure? I think we are going to feel this over time, and it’s going to be staggering. People have really underestimated what a disruptive decision this is.

Courtney: To read the dissents, see the

composition of the court change over time, and know what each Justice has written about substantive due process over the course of the last several terms, it is not surprising. This is going to be a really pivotal time for the law and our students. I anticipate student interest will refocus from federal law to state and local. We’re going to have students thinking less nationally in the short term, but hopefully, strategic state and local goals will be a galvanizing push to reimagine those national impacts. There’s renewed interest, and students realize that their state constitution is another source of laws, rights, and protections—that the court down the street might be the place where things that they care about are going to happen in the interim.

Keeshea: You had a President [Trump]

who didn’t win the popular vote and took several key Supreme Court seats and basically made the court his own. I think we should look at whether the Electoral College needs to be revamped. The president should not be a person who didn’t win the popular vote. I also think we should think about increasing the number of Supreme Court judges. There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that puts a limit on judges. You could have five Republicans, Democrats, and

one person in the middle so one party doesn’t create a supermajority. You also could have term limits for the Supreme Court justices.


What about the idea of the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, that justices’ own beliefs don’t have any bearing on the rulings? Jane: I think law is in crisis right

now. Look at what’s happening with the January 6 hearings and the failure to indict people, the degree to which people think they have a right to engage in violent acts in order to vindicate something they think has been wrong. Every law-based institution is challenged right now. It becomes unpredictable chaos.

Courtney: Ultimately, what gives the

Supreme Court its power is that we believe in it. The Supreme Court doesn’t have the force of an army to send out, right? I teach stare decisis at the beginning of every class. [Definition: When a court makes its decision in alignment with the previous court’s decision on a ruling, ‘to stand by things decided,’ in Latin]. The idea is central to legal learning and practice, that precedent is going to be treated in a predictable way. Summer 2022 23

Jane: The Supreme Court has replaced it with originalism, and it gives them cover for not following recent precedent. Stare decisis doesn’t mean anything anymore. Keeshea: I do fear for the legitimacy of

the court that has basically blown away 50 years of precedent. What other rights are in the sights of the justices? The Dobbs decision has ripple effects beyond Roe v. Wade. This requires everyone, especially lawyers, to be vigilant about securing sacred Constitutional rights.

“We are going to have to step back and say, okay, how do we have an impact and how can we join together and overlook some of our differences in order for us to be operating as a pressure point for these legislators?” As a new law professor, it’s challenging trying to figure out how to teach family law and other areas of the law. The new reality is that basically what [the Supreme Court] is saying is, if it’s not written in the text of the U.S. Constitution, your rights can be taken away from you. If you look at the constitution, people of color and women had no rights. Women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, particularly the 14th Amendment and due process could all go away. How do we make them more permanent?


How do we inspire the next generation of female lawyers?

Jane: We need to teach people the lawyer

skills of stakeholder analysis and building coalitions. We are going to have to step back and say, okay, how do we have an impact and how can we join together and overlook some of our differences in order for us to be operating as a pressure point for these legislators? There’s not a law school in the country that says to the world, “we teach people state and local law,” because the school 24 Hollins


is worried it’ll make them parochial. And right now that’s the only thing that matters.

What are other legal issues that the next generation of lawyers are deeply passionate about?

Keeshea: Hopefully, I lead by example.

Keeshea: When I was at Howard

As a professor, I have to be neutral and present both sides. I have to teach students how to think outside the box, that the law is constantly changing. I want to inspire them to get involved. Even on a local level or state level, you still have powers.

Courtney: We need to prepare students

to think across disciplines to ensure that they have the skills to navigate the unpredictable. Our students are acutely aware that the laws of the present shape the future that they will or won’t have. Students will reimagine how our systems look, in their work and with their presence. That’s why Justice Jackson’s addition to the court is so important, to continue all our students’ abilities to see themselves within legal systems. Even when they feel unseen by that system right now. I want them to have every opportunity I had to complete my legal education and do this work.

Jane: Most law schools now are more

than 50% women. But we still lose a lot of women in high-powered jobs because they are forced to make the choice between being a mother and being a lawyer. Representation only means something if the power that it confers can be manifest in settings in which that power is honored. Courtney: Despite an increased number

of female law students, vertical discrimination within the profession continues to shape who actually is able to attain and sustain power. COVID-19 impacted legal workplaces, just like every workplace. Women were slower to return to the workforce through the pandemic because of lasting changes to schools and childcare. This means that there’s a potential for my current students to go into law firms that look more like before I joined the legal profession.

University School of Law, my students were very interested in housing rights and neighborhood gentrification. We also talked some about critical race theory. I think that some states’ response to critical race theory, which isn’t taught at the K-12 level but at college or law school, is a racist dog whistle. Unlike in Germany, where they are very frank about the Holocaust, sometimes in America, we don’t want to have that conversation [about slavery and systemic racism]. We’re not giving either child, Black or white, any favors by not having an honest discussion. You can still love your nation and criticize things that it does. We need to look deeply into the law and make sure systems and processes work better for everyone. Courtney: My students are strategizing

how the law can better reflect and represent the families that they’re already forming and the environment that they want to live in—schools, housing, health care, digitally. How those spaces can reflect and represent their intersectional identities that the law may not currently recognize.

Jane: There are very few women who argue before the Supreme Court. There’s this little group of all men, and they’re the ones in charge of framing the issue. Well, that’s not working. Women have a bigger role to play. I try to get students to understand that law is just one of the tools at their disposal. They need that insight so that they can effectively mobilize communities. People [now] understand the value of voting and putting pressure on legislators and demanding that they respond appropriately. We now know that we can’t just let it rest with the law.


The Roe v. Wade reversal affects marginalized communities in a very big way. Is that something that concerns you and your students?

The Panel Courtney: Our students are motivated

by the ethic of care and community because cases are ultimately about people. They’re acutely aware that people who can travel and have access to financial resources will have more choices. They’re thinking critically about race, class, disability, and gender and access to medical care, about being able to navigate not just the legal system, but all systems. And they’re absolutely thinking about how to mobilize, not just within the legal system, but beyond it. This is not a singular issue that is relegated just to one area of law or one type of case. It impacts education, immigration, work, family, criminal, and civil spaces. There is just no limit to the intersections, and our students will see this in every facet of their work and lives.

Jane: Black women with children will probably be the women most affected by this decision. They are more often poor, and already face higher risks of pregnancy complications or death related to pregnancy and childbirth. I am worried about states passing more and more laws criminalizing abortion. Women of color will be at higher risk of prosecution and incarceration. It is really important that those of us with wealth and privilege step up, especially because we can avoid some of the effects of this decision. We cannot afford to abandon any pregnant person seeking self-protection. Keeshea: [The ruling] is going to have

a huge impact on people of color. The maternal death rate for Black children and moms is extremely high. [Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women experience maternal mortality two to three times higher than that of white women.] There’s a concern that for people of color, neonatal and maternal care will be ignored. People of color will bear the brunt of the decision because they don’t have the means to go elsewhere for an abortion. I foresee an increase of children in foster care and in child abuse and neglect cases. There are ripple effects from this decision. There’s going to be more litigation as a result.


Are there other trends, judicial and legal issues, that are on your radar?

Jane: LGBTQ rights issues are at the forefront. The right to marriage could be taken away. I think religious rights are changing, too. Establishment of religion seems to have disappeared as a concern for this court. We are getting contradictory messages on the importance of state and local decision-making. The Court says election laws are to be left to state legislatures but laws on gun control are governed by federal law. The substantive due process rights are all on the table, but I’m worried about any right. Courtney: The word ‘abortion’ is obviously

not in the Constitution, but neither is family or education or love. My students are very familiar with my joke, asking if they read the footnotes or the glossary of the Constitution. Oh, wait, there aren’t footnotes or glossary. The court decisions—and precedent as we have known it—are the interpretation, the definition section. People rely on those interpretations. And when they can’t, the path forward must be redefined in other ways. Keeshea: It’s a good time to be a lawyer

because I think that there needs to be new ideas about how justice is rendered. It’s important that students are on the ground level and part of this. If nothing else, this should inspire women to go into policy work because they are needed. America is not a corporation, it’s a democracy, and we need to figure out what democracy means. We have to be concerned about the rise of white supremacy. The longer we ignore it, the more it will tear apart the fabric of our nation. We are dependent on each other, and we are dividing ourselves. It’s up to Generation X and the Millennials to say what things are and what they are going to be. Sarah Achenbach ’88 is a freelance writer living in Baltimore.

Jane Aiken ’77, dean and professor of

law, Wake Forest University School of Law; on sabbatical to work with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. • J.D., New York University • L.L.M., Georgetown University • Experiences: Blume Professor of Law, Vice Dean, Associate Dean for Academic affairs and other roles, Georgetown University; Founder, Community Justice Project, Georgetown University; William Van Cleve Professor of Law, Washington University in St. Louis; Fulbright Scholar, Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal

Courtney Chenette ’09,

assistant professor of political science and gender and women’s studies, pre-law advisor, Hollins University • J.D., The Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University • Experiences: Assistant Professor of Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies, Hollins University; civil rights attorney; General Counsel, Reconstructing Hope; Attorney ballot monitor, 2020 Wisconsin presidential election recount and Georgia’s 2021 Senate runoff; New York University Revson LSPIN Fellow

Keeshea Turner Roberts ’96, assistant professor of law, Delaware Law School • J.D. and a Certificate in Public Policy, Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law • Graduate, John Payton Leadership Academy, Washington, D.C. • 2021 Bellows Scholar, Association of American Law Schools’ Committee on Lawyering in the Public Interest • Experiences: Judicial Law Clerk, Superior Court for the District of Columbia; Litigator, Neighborhood Legal Services Program, Washington, D.C.; Supervising Attorney and Adjunct Clinical Law Professor, Rising for Justice; Co-director, Civil Protection Order Project; Supervising Attorney and Adjunct Clinical Law Professor, Fair Housing Clinic, Howard University; Assistant Professor of Law, Widener University Delaware School of Law Editor’s Note: Panelists spoke to Hollins Magazine through Zoom and by phone and answered identical questions to create this Q&A. All conversations were edited for length.

The Next Generation of Leaders


Kayla Richardson ’24, sociology, political science double major • Inaugural cohort and only Hollins student, Roadmap Scholars, University of Virginia, 2022 • Mentor, Student Success Leader, Hollins, 2022-23 • Class of 2024 Vice President in 2021-22 and 2022-23 • Senator, Model UN/Model Arab League since 2021 • Hollins Summer Research Fellow, 2021 I definitely gained a lot of knowledge as a UVA Roadmap Scholar. I have a better

understanding of legal writing, applying to law school, and what law school will look like. Before the Supreme Court rulings, [my cohort] already was discussing them. The Roe v. Wade ruling was a tough one for us, even though we saw it coming. It motivates me even more, though. Who else is going to make changes?


Rory Sanson Boitnott ’19

Growing up, I was always politically engaged and thought everyone else was into policy, too. I want to see a change in

the world, and being a lawyer aligns with that. During my 2021 J-Term class, Trial and Error with Judge David Carson [23rd Judicial Circuit in Roanoke], I saw civil proceedings. Even traffic court was inspiring. I saw lawyers in action, working together in the background for common ground, which isn’t what you see on TV. [As an attorney], I want to be involved directly benefiting marginalized communities. Since the Roadmap Scholars program, I am leaning toward criminal law.

Leah Wilkins ’23, political science major; social justice, gender and women’s studies minors • Part of first cohort of Hollins students ever selected for the nationally competitive 2021 pre-law Pipeline PLUS Scholar program; Leah attended the University of Houston Law Center and won the Best Legal Writing Scholar award • University of Colorado Boulder Mini Law School, 2022 • Marivious Allen intern, Carrier & Allison Law Firm, Beaumont, TX, Summer 2022 • Georgetown University Junior State of America Summer Program, 2018 • Chair, Honor Court and Appeals Board, 2021-22, 2022-23 • Mentor, Hollins University Early Transition Program 2020-21 • Vice-President, Sandusky Service House 2020-present • Vice President, Black Student Alliance The recent Roe v. Wade decision is so stressful, especially in Texas. It fuels me to work

harder. Seeing a Supreme Court Justice who looks like me is monumental. Having J.D. after my name will allow people to see as well as hear my words. Being Honor Court Chair really makes me think about decisions and consequences. It isn’t just

a slap on the wrist. I didn’t realize how real-life this experience is. There are not a lot of students who have the student handbook highlighted with sticky notes.

This past summer, I shadowed at the courthouse, went over depositions, and got a lot of hands-on experience.

Originally, I wanted to be a prosecutor, but Professor Chenette said to see both sides. I am loving the defense end of law, which surprised me. At a bigger university, I would not have had this much care from my professors. I know that they listen to me, which will really help me in the legal field and how I will care for my clients.

To read more from the panel, scan the QR code or visit hollins.edu/magazine/womenlaw 26 Hollins


MEDICINE Hollins’ Internships with Vascular Perfusion Solutions Are Changing Lives B Y J E F F D I N G L E R M . F. A . ’ 2 2



Top Right: Caption for 4 students at work


dipta Bohara ’21 never thought a J-Term internship would change her life. But never say never. In January 2020, she signed up for a brand-new, one-month internship with a young company called Vascular Perfusion Solutions (VPS), which specializes in new and innovative solutions for the transplantation of organs and other vascularized tissues. In other words, the company develops cool devices for organ transplants. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a J-Term, but then this internship came up,” said Bohara. “I talked to [VPS] and I liked them and they liked me.” So Bohara flew out to San Antonio, where VPS is based, becoming the company’s very first intern, and worked on data that eventually got the Hollins biology major published in the peerreviewed Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. A very big win for any young scientist! “VPS is great with attention to each person on a very individual level,” said Bohara. “Even the CEO sat on a call with me to discuss the results of the data. That’s something you generally don’t see in companies: the CEO on a call with a student!” It’s all thanks to a relatively new and extended internship program between VPS and Hollins University. Since Bohara’s time with VPS just two years ago, five more Hollins students have gone through the month-long research program, which has resulted in everything from contributions to scientific manuscripts that will be published later this year to helping with significant developments in oxygenated medical devices. “Although women are significantly underrepresented in STEM majors, VPS is happy to host Hollins interns who have chosen multiple paths to a career in science,” said Michelle Watt ’93,

clinical director at VPS and the brains behind this fruitful new learning opportunity. The idea actually emerged about three years ago after a few latenight discussions with classmates at, of all places, a Hollins reunion. “Hollins played such an important part in all our lives,” said Watt. “When I was in a position to make this happen, I jumped at a chance to partner with Hollins. It’s such an amazing opportunity to not only support women in STEM, and their future career opportunities, but also to give something back to the place that gave me so much.” Though still in its early stages, the program has already given a lot. Just look at Bohara, who is now earning her Master of Computational Biology from Virginia Tech. “If Hollins weren’t there, and if Michelle Watt weren’t a student back then, I never would’ve been exposed to the transplantation side of biology,” said Bohara. “Hollins is definitely the major pathway that led me to this internship, and that led me to Virginia Tech and computational biology.” The giving hasn’t stopped there. VPS and Hollins are currently working on expanding the program to include a summer internship and are also hoping to increase the number of intern positions as the company grows. “The work I’m doing on this technology will allow me to touch more lives than I ever could in my career at the bedside,” said Watt, who’s worked in medicine for more than a decade. “Anyone who has ever dedicated their life to helping and saving patients understands what this means both professionally and personally. As a nurse who has lived the clinical side of health care, I know how our devices will forever change the practice of organ transplantation.” Jeff Dingler is a recent graduate of the M.F.A. in creative writing program.

Summer 2022 27

B Y J E F F D I N G L E R M . F. A . ’ 2 2

28 Hollins


ometimes the best ideas take shape under a little pressure. Cue Todd Ristau, who designed and founded the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, Hollins’ playwriting M.F.A. program, and has served as program director since its launch in 2007. Back in 2006, however, Ristau was still working as a literary associate at Mill Mountain Theatre (MMT) and was tasked with a last-minute creative quandary. “Mill Mountain Theatre was trying to figure out some kind of fun event to get community members and donors involved in new, nontraditional ways,” said Ristau. “They were going to do something like a talent show, and I was asked to come up with something different.” At the same time, Ristau was forming the playwriting master’s program at Hollins, an intensive threeyear degree emphasizing new-play development. “I wanted to steer [this new event] in the direction of everything that Mill Mountain wanted involving lifting up and celebrating new plays.” So Ristau took a little inspiration from some other theatre projects and came up with the concept of Overnight Sensations, a festival of original “timed” plays, all written, rehearsed, and staged within a single day. “I was under the

gun to come up with an inventive idea,” said Ristau. “So I took that feeling of being under the gun and incorporated that into our event.” Every summer since, six playwrights are randomly paired with six directors. The writers and directors then draw from a hat different prompts and preselected casts, and the playwrights have to come up with ten-minute plays overnight, which the theatre troupes, composed of actors and non-actors alike, present the following evening. These Overnight Sensations have become a must for the Blue Ridge summer theatre crowd. “It’s a great immersion into the madcap mania that is any theatrical festival,” said Ristau. “We just do it in a micro-brewed way.” Perhaps best of all, Overnight Sensations is completely free, “friendraising not fund-raising,” as Ristau puts it. The festival of mini-plays also serves as community outreach by casting Hollins students, faculty, and guest artists as well as lots of local talent and public figures such as former Roanoke Mayor Nelson Harris, local TV personalities Keith Humphry and Natalie Faunce Soucie, and even Mark Armstrong, artistic director of New York City’s The 24 Hour Plays, one of the original timed theatre projects.

The creative collaboration didn’t stop there, however. In 2013, Ristau worked with Producing Artistic Director Ginger Poole to launch the Hollins-Mill Mountain Winter Festival of New Works, which, true to its name, produces new, compelling works every January at MMT. (The last two years were held online because of the pandemic.) Many of the plays are selected from the Playwright’s Lab, and a dozen or so guest professionals are invited to watch the staged readings and offer feedback to the student writers, directors, and performers. “One of the great things about the partnership is that it allows our students to get some experience in a professional theatre space,” said Ristau. The Winter Festival of New Works actually evolved out of the sudden success of one work from the Playwright’s Lab: Samantha Macher’s Brechtian comedy The Arctic Circle (and a recipe for Swedish pancakes). “Jason Goldberg, founder of Original Works Publishing, was one of the guest artists,” recalled Ristau. “He was so impressed by the play that he pledged to publish it as soon as it got at least six performances in a real theatre with a review in a legitimate paper.” So Ristau approached his old friends at MMT and produced the play on the Waldron Stage. Famed Off-Broadway

director Robert Moss, who was Hollins faculty at the time, volunteered to direct. Moss was equally bowled over. Renowned for having debuted numerous nowfamous plays at his Playwrights Horizons Theatre in NYC, including Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s smash hit

have won awards and commendations and gone on to have successful runs in New York, Los Angeles, and beyond. In all, the Hollins-MMT collaboration has staged more than 120 individual works in the last 17 years. And even though Ristau is currently immersed in

“It’s a terrific thing to have a collaboration between an academic theatre and a professional theatre so we can both contribute to the ongoing development of new work and each other’s success.” musical Sunday in the Park and George and Alfred Uhry’s classic comedydrama Driving Miss Daisy, Moss brought The Arctic Circle to the Playwright’s Horizon Theatre School in a space they call The White Box. “We think of The Arctic Circle as the first Winter Festival, even though we didn’t call it that then,” said Ristau. “Based on that initial success and partnership between MMT and the Playwright’s Lab, we decided why don’t we just make this an ongoing thing, and we started doing a few shows at Mill Mountain every winter.” Since then, the Winter Festival of New Works has fostered other plays that

this summer’s Overnight Sensations, he’s already looking ahead to the next Winter Festival, which for the first time in two years will take place in person and also at Hollins Theatre. “It’s just a deeply meaningful and naturally evolving partnership,” said Ristau about the relationship between MMT and Hollins. “And it’s a terrific thing to have a collaboration between an academic theatre and a professional theatre so we can both contribute to the ongoing development of new work and each other’s success.” Jeff Dingler is a recent graduate of the M.F.A. in creative writing program.

Summer 2022 29


Mark your calendars to join President Mary Dana Hinton and your fellow Hollins alumnae/i for a special event

in a town near you! Be sure to watch your email for additional details coming in the weeks ahead.


NOVEMBER 1 Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

Atlanta, Georgia

Roanoke, Virginia

NOVEMBER 3 NOVEMBER 16 Charlotte, North Carolina

Hampton Roads, Virginia